Notes with Notes: The Harmony of Music and Learning

Music and learning

And a one and a two and a…

I could write a number of quotes about music, but I think the power of music is best illustrated here. Take a look at ten time Grammy-award winner Bobby McFerrin playing one of the most unusual instruments, his audience.


Since childhood, music plays an important role in defining and developing the linguistic abilities of a child. Nursery rhymes and songs are often used, with great effect, to introduce children to the concepts of communication. As the child mimics and learns these sonic patterns, it helps them develop their own hearing and speaking abilities.

Educators have often used music and learning through the ages. Folk songs were (and in some places still are) one of the most popular ways of imparting historical knowledge and life lessons across generations. This can even be observed in academics. Take for example the English alphabet, which is also taught using a melody. But why is it so?

Sonic Mnemonics!

Music enables learners to associate learning patterns with musical patterns and then extrapolate data using this association. For example, most young learners who are not yet fully fluent in the alphabet will often start humming the melody of the “A-B-C-D” song they were taught, find the alphabet they were looking for and recite it.

Since the song’s melody was constructed using a repetitive and easy to learn melodic pattern, it acts as a placeholder for the information which helps the child in remembering the correct alphabet by simply humming out the first few bars of the song. They remember the musical pattern (be it the rhythm, the melody or a combination of the two) and are able to extrapolate the necessary information.

Building this association lies on that blurred line which lies between art and science. Online teachers can definitely capitalize on this to drive home a message with greater clarity. Take for example Mike Klinger. His classes involve teaching educators how to use the latest music technology on the iPad which helps his learners in enriching their class.

Teaching languages online using such mnemonics becomes a lot easier since songs and rhymes are not only prevalent across almost all languages but also offer a nice and relaxing introduction to the pronunciation of terms in a language. Song lyrics are also good sources of phrases and idioms which can help understand a language’s cultural context as well. The best part is that learners can download these songs and save them for their reference as well.

Note down with notes

Music is also a great way for teachers to connect with the tastes and temperaments of their students since music also helps foster a familiar ground on which a learner can communicate more openly with an educator. Common tastes in music are often an indication of social compatibility which helps in better learner engagement and rapport establishment as well.

Teachers can use components of music like melodies and rhythms to help students memorize detail-oriented concepts by breaking them down into acronyms, limericks and sonnets. Many teachers make it look easy but all of those skills come from practice and dedication. With many teacher development courses available to help teachers discover and implement the power of song-based mnemonics, creating the right learning resource should not be a challenge.

Get with the beat

By learning more about music technology and basic music theory in general, teachers can begin involving music in their classroom. With the ease of file sharing as well as videos to explain these concepts, engaging learners in the classroom becomes a whole lot easier and effective.

Music helps instill discipline, patience and confidence in a learner which are vital harnessing their talents and developing them into usable skills. To learn more about how you can use music to get your classroom grooving, check out the many courses on WizIQ. Meanwhile, let Bobby McFerrin put a smile on your face with another great tune. Ready? And a one and a two and a…

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A writer, a musician and a restless spirit, Abhinav has the heart of a child.... In a jar on his desk. (cue evil laughter)

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